STORMRULER “Sacred Rites and Black Magick”
By Dr. Abner Mality
These guys are from ST. LOUIS?! After listening to the utter blackened majesty of STORMRULER, I would have picked Sweden or Finland as their stomping grounds. Or even more likely, the realm of Gondor or perhaps the frozen North of Tad Williams’ fantasy tales of Osten Ard. At any rate, these two warriors have conjured up a feast of gloriously over the top melodic black metal that embraces the epic. Yes, this is maximal ism, not minimalism. And it works.
The two major touchstones of STORMRULER’s sound would have to be DISSECTION and IMMORTAL. They draw upon the former's freezing cold and pitch black melodies while occasionally dipping into the barbaric power riffing from the latter’s most classic period. They have found the riffs that ABBATH seems to have badly misplaced on his last sorry album. There are 20 songs on this massive opus, but be aware that 10 of them are atmospheric interludes lasting less than a minute. The amazing thing is that the smaller instrumental tracks are crafted with as much care as the “main” songs and they each have their own distinctive touches that perfectly enhance the major tracks.
And what epics those main tracks are! Although nothing goes overboard and exceeds nine minutes in length, the songs are packed with intricate structures, ice-cold black speed and a feeling of ancient realms and sorcery. The vocals are very much black metal screaming and perhaps the most “typical” aspect of the band. I did think a couple tracks wandered a bit too long, but every tune here has its high points. My personal picks are the massive and majestic “To Bear The Twin Faces of the Dragon”, the short and brutally powerful “Ten Heralds, Ten Desolations”, and “Along the Appian Way”, which has a very “Roman” sound befitting its title. But every track has something to explore.
The main attraction of STORMRULER is how they are really able to conjure up the feeling of another world, an ancient world of warriors, monsters and gods. Many bands try to achieve this feeling but few succeed to this extent. Black metal fans of course will appreciate “Sacred Rites and Black Magick” the most, but I can see many devotees of melodic death metal and epic power metal also enjoying what these fellows from the American Midwest have created.